UK-based international architectural practice RMJM has announced details of its work on three of the biggest medical and healthcare projects in New Orleans.

Official data suggests that there are now 25% fewer hospitals in New Orleans than before Hurricane Katrina hit three years ago and there are less than 2 beds per 1000 residents, as compared to over 3 beds before the storm.

With commissions from the Tulane University’s School of Medicine, the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and Charity Hospital – the oldest and most notable hospital in the USA – RMJM is playing a central role in helping New Orleans to realise its ambition of becoming a centre of excellence in the provision of healthcare facilities and medical research and to boost its struggling economy with investment in medical research.

RMJM was appointed by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana to examine and evaluate the Big Charity structure to determine whether the facility could be restructured or repaired. Charity Hospital, known locally as Big Charity as it had served the poor for over 250 years and which was the oldest operating hospital in the USA until it closed after being flooded in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, is now the focus of the most significant healthcare proposal in the city.

RMJM’s findings showed that the historic Art Deco building can not only be saved but also has the potential to be transformed into a state-of-the-art medical facility. Louisiana Senator David Vitter has voiced his support for the RMJM proposals which have been put forward and it is hoped that a funding package will soon be settled to enable the transformation to take place.

RMJM is also redesigning the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in New Orleans to take account of new building codes for flooding. Upon completion, the 166,000 sq ft building will include flexible research space, office space and support laboratories for 72 principal researchers and their teams.

Finally, RMJM is working on a ten-year masterplan for the School of Medicine, Life Sciences and Engineering as part of Tulane University’s renewal plan – which will enhance the presence of the medical school and help it to attract the best scientists and students from around the world to work and learn in New Orleans.